World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article




Artist Juan Luna
Year 1884
Type Oil on canvas
Dimensions 422 cm × 767.5 cm (166 in × 302.2 in)
Location National Museum of the Philippines

The Spoliarium (often misspelled Spolarium) is a painting by Filipino artist Juan Luna. The painting was submitted by Luna to the Exposición Nacional de Bellas Artes in 1884 in Madrid, where it garnered the first gold medal (out of three). In 1886, it was sold to the Diputación Provincial de Barcelona for 20,000 pesetas. It currently hangs in the main gallery at the ground floor of the National Museum of the Philippines, and is the first work of art that greets visitors upon entry into the museum.

Spoliarium as displayed in the National Museum of the Philippines


  • When Slaves Triumph Over Their Rulers 1
  • Jose Rizal's Heart on the Spoliarium 2
  • In popular culture 3
  • External links 4

When Slaves Triumph Over Their Rulers

Juan Luna spent eight months to finish this painting, on a canvas depicting dying gladiators. Ambeth Ocampo wrote, "...the fact remains that when Luna and Félix Resurrección Hidalgo won the top awards in the Madrid Exposition of 1884, they proved to the world that indios could, despite their supposed barbarian race, paint better than the Spaniards who colonized them." (Ambeth R. Ocampo, "Rizal Without the Overcoat" 2000) ..

Jose Rizal's Heart on the Spoliarium

At a gathering of the Filipino expatriates in Madrid, Spain, Rizal enthusiastically gave his opening toast to celebrate the momentous "fresh proof of racial equality" the triumphs of two compatriots (the other one was Félix Hidalgo who won a silver medal) had achieved.

"Luna's Spoliarium with its bloody carcasses of slave gladiators being dragged away from the arena where they had entertained their Roman oppressors with their lives...stripped to satisfy the lewd contempt of their Roman persecutors with their honor..." Rizal was footnoted in his speech that the Spoliarium, "embodied the essense [sic] of our social, moral and political life: humanity in severe ordeal, humanity unredeemed, reason and idealism in open struggle with prejudice, fanaticism

Rizal was inspired to carve a mark of his own to give glory to his country by writing his 'Spoliarium' since early that year 1884 "he had been toying with the idea of a book" for he has seen and described the painting as "the tumult of the crowd, the shouts of slaves, the metallic clatter of dead men's armor, the sobs of orphans, the murmured prayers..." Rizal's book would be called Noli Me Tangere, "the Latin echo of the Spoliarium".

In popular culture

Ryan Cayabyab composed the opera Spoliarium, which chronicles the creation of the eponymous painting and Juan Luna's trial for the murder of his wife. Soprano Fides Cuyugan-Asensio wrote the libretto. A recorded version was released for commercial distribution in 2006.

Popular Filipino rock band Eraserheads had a single entitled Spoliarium in their album Sticker Happy, penned by Ely Buendia.

The painting is also mentioned by the poet Ma. Luisa Aguilar Igloria in her collection, Juan Luna's Revolver, and by the novelist Miguel Syjuco in his novel Ilustrado.

In the 2015 historical film Heneral Luna, a scene where soldiers drag the mutilated corpses of Antonio Luna and Paco Roman while shocked onlookers watch from a staircase closely mirrors that of Spoliarium. Antonio Luna is the younger brother of Juan Luna.

External links

  • Other paintings by Luna at
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.